New Year, Same Goals: 2022 Middletown South High School Football Preview
Middletown South is coming off a nine-win season and an appearance in a sectional final, and despite losing some of their top players to graduation the Eagles' championship aspirations remain as high as ever.
After a couple of subpar seasons, Middletown South returned to the ranks of the Shore Conference's elite last season by going 9-2, reaching the North 2, Group 4 title game, and claiming the Colonial Division championship. Five All-Shore players have since graduated, but two more return as juniors to lead a talented and hungry group.
Taking over at quarterback in Middletown South's spread offense is junior Jake Czwakiel, and the coaching staff is very high on his potential at the position. Although behind Tom Schork on the QB depth chart last season, Czwakiel was a major contributor on defense and as the team's kicker. A Second Team All-Shore selection, Czwakiel tied for the Shore Conference lead with five interceptions and finished with 45 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 5 pass breakups. He was also one of the Shore’s best kickers who converted 25 of 27 extra points and kicked five field goals with a long of 31 yards. Czwakiel's backfield mate is another high-caliber junior, Donovan Summey, who wasn't the starter last season but played plenty of snaps. He could be in for a big season.
Senior Logan Colleran returns as a starting wide receiver and will be joined by junior Owen Richter. The tight end is senior Jason Wagner.
Two starters return along the offensive line with seniors Tommy Whyte and Tyler Addonisio at right guard and right tackle, respectively. Senior Aidan Parry is the left tackle, sophomores Mike Toth and Matt Germak are working at left guard, and senior Luigi Massagli is the center.
Middletown South has had some explosive offenses over the years, but even at their highest when they featured future NFL running back Knowshon Moreno, the defense has always led the way. Last season's unit under the direction of Defensive Coordinator Marc Tomo was fearsome and limited opponents to just 10.1 points per game with two shutouts. Five starters also return on defense with Czwakiel and junior linebacker Colin Gallagher leading the way.
It didn't take Gallagher long to make his presence felt last season when he opened the season with four sacks in a win over Manasquan. He finished his sophomore season with a conference-leading 12 sacks along with 83 total tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a pass breakup. Fast, physical, and violent, he is the prototypical Middletown South linebacker and will probably be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year.
The defensive line in the Eagles' 3-4 defense has Addonisio, a returning starter, and senior Will Christopher at defensive end, and Parry at defensive tackle. Gallagher and senior returning starter Kyle Smith are the inside linebackers and senior Jason Wagner and sophomore Luke Wafle are the outside linebackers. Wagner is also a key returner after seeing playing time last season. The secondary is strong with the returning starters being Colleran at cornerback and Czwakiel at free safety. Junior Antony Puccio is the other cornerback and Richter is the strong safety.
As mentioned, Czwakiel will reprise his role as kicker and punter and figures to once again be among the best in the Shore Conference.
After winning the Colonial Division last season by topping Manalapan, Jackson Memorial, Southern, and Holmdel, the Eagles move up to the American Division with fellow Shore Conference powerhouses Red Bank Catholic, Rumson-Fair Haven, Donovan Catholic, Manalapan, and Wall.
At a Glance
Projected starters (RS=returning starter)
Returning starters: 5
QB: Jake Czwakiel, Jr.
RB: Donovan Summey, Jr., RS
WR: Logan Colleran, Sr., RS; Owen Richter, Jr.
TE: Jason Wagner, Sr.
LT: Aidan Parry, Sr.
LG: Mike Toth, So.; Matt Germak, So.
C: Luigi Massagli, Sr.
RG: Tommy Whyte, Sr., RS
RT: Tyler Addonisio, Sr., RS
Returning starters: 5
DE: Tyler Addonisio, Sr., RS
DT: Aidan Parry, Sr.
DE: Will Christopher, Sr.
OLB: Jason Wagner, Sr.,
ILB: Colin Gallagher, Jr., RS
ILB: Kyle Smith, Sr., RS
OLB: Luke Wafle, So
CB: Logan Colleran, Sr., RS
CB: Anthony Puccio, Jr.
SS: Owen Richter, Jr.
FS: Jake Czwakiel, Jr., RS
K/P: Jake Czwakiel, Jr., RS
Head coach: Steve Antonucci, 25th season
Career record: 206-61
Team record last five years:
Assistant coaches: Joe Trezza (Offensive Coordinator); Marc Tomo (Defensive Coordinator); Al Bigos (OL); Steve Roberts (Special Teams/LB); Rod Murchie (DB/Special Teams); Matt Walsh (QB); Kevin Higgins (LB); Tim Heaney (DL); Adam Schreck (WR); Tuck Isherwood (Off. Quality Control); Sam Dokus (Def. Quality Control); Jeff Martin (Freshmen Head Coach); Tom Nicholes (Freshmen asst.); Zach Even-Esh (Strength & Conditioning); Stacy White (Athletic Trainer).
Players to Watch: Colin Gallagher, Jr., LB & Jake Czwakiel, Jr., QB/DB/K
Both Gallagher and Czwakiel were SSN Second Team All-Shore selections last season and return to lead the way for the Eagles. Gallagher recorded a conference-best 12 sacks along with 83 total tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a pass breakup. Czwakiel tied for the Shore Conference lead with five interceptions and finished with 45 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 5 pass breakups, converted 25 of 27 extra points, and kicked five field goals with a long of 31 yards.
Player Under the Radar: Logan Colleran, Sr., WR/DB
Colleran is a returning starter on both sides of the ball at wide receiver and cornerback and figures to play a major role in the Eagles' success this season.
Breakout Candidate: Donovan Summey, Jr., RB
After backing up senior 1,000-yard rusher Dam Primiano last season, Summey will get a chance to shine as the Eagles' RB1 this season. He is a talented player and certainly a junior to keep an eye on.
Rivalry Game: Oct. 7 at Rumson-Fair Haven
Middletown South's biggest rival is Middletown North, which it plays on Thanksgiving, but Rumson is a proximity rival and also one of the best programs in the Shore Conference. With the two teams now in the same division, this should be a can't-miss game during the Week 6 schedule.
Sept. 2 - @Long Branch, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 - @Manalpan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 - vs. Red Bank Catholic, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 - vs. Wall, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 - @Rumson-Fair Haven, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 - vs. Matawan, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 - @Donovan Catholic, 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 24 - vs. Middletown North, 10:30 a.m.